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Keith Rylatt - author of Groovesville USA

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This week Keith Rylatt, author of Groovesville USA tells us of his introduction to soul, his writing project experiences to date and a new book due to be unleashed very soon:

"A visit to the Bee Gee Club in Leeds in 1965 gave me the taste for Soul and Motown before studying it in more depth at Manchester’s Twisted Wheel and Pendulum clubs. As far as reading about soul was concerned it was through Blues & Soul magazine then Shout, Hot Buttered Soul and the plethora of Northern Soul fanzines of the 1970s. Following contributions to some of these, especially HBS (later relaunched as Soul Cargo) and Midnite Express I was inspired to produce my own fanzine. `Come & Get These Memories` lasted all of three issues! The final one contained an article on the Twisted Wheel which was picked up on by the guys at Bee Cool Publishing. They commissioned me to write a book about the club, which I did with the help of Phil Scott. CENtral 1179 was published in 2001. Some five years later I was again approached by ex-Bee Cool man Stuart Russell to write a book about the Detroit soul scene. He knew that in my isolated existence in relatively soulless Kent I had previously amassed a sizeable Motown and Detroit Soul record collection. 'Groovesville USA' was published in 2010. It was a particular thrill for me when it was stocked at a book store in the Motor City.

Thinking that my writing days were now over, a couple of years later an unbelievable turn of events changed all of that when I chanced upon a cache of Motown photographs from 1964 and ‘65 that had remained hidden in a loft for over 50 years. Along with various Motown ephemera they were an account of the birth of Tamla Motown in Britain, including the visits of the various stars that toured here. As with the Twisted Wheel book, the research opened up many little explored avenues and me visiting folk who had been involved. I had the honour of reawakening their memories from half a century ago.

As far as listening to soul is concerned I’m currently back into Motown but like many folk I have gradually sold records over the years. The thing was that during my years in Kent, there were no soul venues in the '70s and '80s. Just the 6T’s in London. So collecting records became an obsession. I made the mistake of collecting labels and artists blind with Ric Tic and Shout being the first labels; and J J Barnes and the Impressions, the artists. The logic was that as there were some great records on a particular label there must be others too, and the same type of thing with an artist. Inevitably some disappointing titles cropped up along the way and so periodically I sit down, play some discs and weed out those I don’t like, having bought them with my autistic hat on. I must conclude however by declaring that although there were very few 60s Soul fans in Kent in the early 1970s there was a virtually untapped supply of great records which had been discarded when their owners moved on to new musical genres."

"Groovesville USA: The Detroit Soul & R&B Index" by Keith Rylatt is available in the new book section.

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